Big Love

Master,
when I’m awake,
will I still love you?

Yes, child,
you will love me then
with the full potency
of your unlimited compassion
for the soul of each living creature,
for the vibrant community of atoms,
for every shining, ebullient star.
Your love will be infinite,
and it will encompass all.

But Master,
that’s not enough.
That’s not big enough
for you.

Two famous poems as limericks

‘Hope’ by Emily Dickinson

There once was a birdie called “Hope”
who would sing when the soul couldn’t cope.
It would tweet in the storm
keeping so many warm,
yet did it ask a crumb of me? Nope.

‘This is Just to Say’ by William Carlos Williams

There once were some plums in the fridge.
But your breakfast rights…I’ve now abridged.
Please forgive! Don’t withhold!
They were SO sweet and cold!
I enjoyed them much more than a smidge.

Sympathy for the Titan

Stop.
I can’t take it.
It’s too much!

*snap*

Go away.
Let me be.
Leave me alone!

*snap*

I’m done.
I give up.
I want to quit!

*snap*

Think of the times
when your stress
has been unbearable.

*snap*

You know you’ve wanted
all that stuff
to just disappear.

*snap*

So tell me: can’t you
sometimes imagine
why Thanos might

*snap*

i am

i am nothing

my so-called self is no-self
an amassment of unallied neural networks
fractious factions fighting it out in my modular mind
an amorphous heap of skittering skandhas

i search frantically among them
tossing aside
body feelings sensations thoughts consciousness
yet i find no permanent “me”

i am everything

an expression of the unity of this uncanny universe
one with the creative currents that give forth galaxies
united with poplars presidents puppies
yet with gifting that is utterly unique

i hunt for any division between you and me
trying to discern my edge
or yours
yet i find no real separation

i am nothing
i am everything
one with the dust
and the divine
i am whole

The Vampires of Kodak Park

When I was in my twenties I moderated
a horror role-playing game for my friends.
Vampire: The Masquerade, it was called,
and it was set in a world much like ours,
but darker: more poverty and cruelty,
a deepening of the usual societal decay.

Plus, of course, there were the vampires.
Vampires and werewolves and witches,
all playing their power games, employing
supernatural powers for blood and profit.
It was all very gothy and grim – an ideal
proxy for our privileged yuppie angst.

I set the game in a crumbling version of
Rochester, New York, where we lived.
Dark fairy godfathers ran crime families,
making the Lilac City run with crimson.
Romani caravans camped in the suburbs,
and the impoverished masses trembled.

And Rochester’s favorite corporate son,
the Eastman Kodak Company, was dead.
The area’s premier real-world employer
had failed. Its vast properties lay empty.
In the industrial complex of Kodak Park,
voids echoed with the groans of zombies.

Inevitably, my dystopian fantasy ended.
I got depressed and had to leave the dark.
I got more depressed and moved south,
and our vampire-haunted Rochester, with
its warlocks and were-tigers and despair,
faded to shared, ghostly memory. Except…

Before I left Rochester, I worked for Kodak
for a period of several months – the time
during which a C-level Kodak exec was
reported to vow: “We are a film company!
Our future is not in digital technology!”
It wasn’t. They filed bankruptcy in 2012.

Last month I visited family outside Utica,
and they’d been to Rochester recently.
They said it was not in very good shape.
They said there was poverty and cruelty,
a deepening of the usual societal decay.
Like our 90’s Lilac City, but much darker.

I don’t know if undead feet shuffle through
the abandoned gloom of the industrial park.
I can’t say whether vampire lords have filled
the vacuum left by fallen corporate giants.
But I’m troubled by reality mirroring fiction.
Our nightmare wasn’t meant to come true.

Salvation

In the beginning was the One.
And the One was cold.
Cold as forgotten sepulchres.
Cold as the void between dying stars.
Cold as a father’s absent tenderness.
Cold and alone.

Then one day there was an Other,
and the One was no longer alone.
And the one was no longer cold.

Now, the One was hot.
Hot as a fiery arrow of fear up the spine.
Hot as a volcanic core of anger in the chest.
Hot as a blazing barrier of self-protection.
Who is this Other?
What will they take from me?

And many times, the story concludes there.
Except that in time (despite the wall of fire),
the One grows cold once again.

The End.

But in a few tellings, something else happens.
The tales disagree about the cause.
But in most of them, the One,
peering out between the flickering flames,
glimpses something in the Other.
Something like Humanity.

And (in these stories), the One begins
to wish to taste this Humanity.
Not to take it from the Other,
but to understand it,
to savor it,
and perhaps to share it.

And timidly, tentatively,
the One lets down the flaming wall,
and reaches out a hand,
and discovers that Humanity
is neither cold nor hot,
but warm.

No, that’s not right –
some fables do make that claim,
but the wisest ones say they are wrong.
Humanity is warm, yes,
but it is also cold
with loneliness, isolation, and distance.
It is also hot
with conflict, challenge, and fear.
But it lives all of these things
in relationship, one with another.

In the beginning was the One.
Now there is the One, and the Other, in relationship.
Whole and hurting members of humankind.
Cold, and hot, and warm.
Mostly warm.

prone

i was better off in the cellar
in the cellar i was safe

there is no safety here
on top of this mountain

here i cower from eagles
that circle these peaks

i can hear their screams
feel their hunger in my spine

i see blood on their talons
and i know

should they come for us
you cannot save me

and i know
i can’t protect you either

so why couldn’t you leave me
alone and snug in my hole?

why drag us up here
exposed

endangered
in one another’s arms?

The Rabbit

with gratitude to Neil Gaiman, in the tradition of his story, “Nicholas Was…

The rabbit didn’t understand.

He could hardly breathe,
and his heart labored to supply
his unnaturally enlarged body
with blood.

His elongated legs
wobbled.

He stared,
uncomprehending,
at the enormous wicker hamper
they had strapped to his neck.

The discolored chicken eggs
inside it
smelled foreign and strange.

“It’s time to go, bunny!”
came the voice
of one of his white-robed
tormentors.

“Hippity!
Hoppity!
Easter’s on its way….”